HUNTINGDON - The mother of a 2-year-old Huntingdon County boy shot and killed in March by his father will offer a keynote address on Saturday to kick off a fundraising walk in her son's memory.
"I am honored that they asked me to be a part of this," Hollie Ayers of Belleville said Monday. "From the beginning, I knew I didn't want this to happen to anyone else."
On the morning of March 23, Hollie Ayers, 41, drove her 2-year-old son, Michael, to the Petersburg area, where the child was supposed to have a supervised visit with his father, Kenneth Robert Ayers. But the visit turned violent when the father used a gun to shoot Hollie and kill the child.
Kenneth Robert Ayers then drove away. Police later found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a truck parked near the Huntingdon-Centre County line.
As of Monday, 11 teams comprising 63 walkers were signed up for The Walk to End Violence, in memory of Michael Ayers.
The event, at Detwiler Field, is sponsored by Huntingdon House, a domestic abuse and counseling center. Registration, which can be made online or by contacting Huntingdon House, continues through Saturday, with no registration fee and no minimum solicitation required.
If you go
What: The Walk to End Violence, in memory of Michael Ayers
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Detwiler Field, Huntingdon
The event's opening ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. when Hollie Ayers will speak before the four-hour walk begins.
"My goal is to stop the silence on domestic violence," Ayers said. "People don't know how it can escalate to where it got to, but it can, even though it didn't start that way. ... And I want to talk about Michael, the kind of little boy he was."
Ayers, who suffered gunshot wounds to her legs and face, said she continues to recover. The bullet that hit her right cheek and jaw has left her unable to fully open her mouth at this time. The bullets that went into her lower legs struck muscle, with no lasting effects.
"Physically, I'm doing well," she said. "Emotionally, it depends on the day."
Nicole Houck, public education coordinator for Huntingdon House, said she appreciates Ayers' support and her willingness to speak.
"She's been really strong through all of this," Houck said.
Money raised through the event, including solicitations collected by the walkers, will go to Huntingdon House, with a portion set aside for a child access center where custody exchanges can occur without parents being in direct contact with each other.
"I think every county should have one of those," Ayers said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.